Wednesday, February 24, 2016

10 things I learned about teaching kids yoga

After teaching kids (aged 4-10) yoga for seven weeks, here are some things I learned:
  1. Create a class plan a week ahead of time and then read it a whole bunch of times until you feel comfortable with the plan. Then tear the paper up into little tiny pieces and toss it right over your shoulder. Basically, have a loose plan and lots of back up ideas to keep the class moving.
  2. Yoga games that seem really, really awesome in your head don't always pan out that way when presented in a kid's class.
  3. Kids will tell you straight up if they don't like the game you chose, the pose you're leading, the story you're reading, the music you're playing...
  4. Balloons + kids yoga is a recipe for utter chaos.
  5. Even little kids love savasana (resting) pose. I was shocked the first time I led it and they all were so still and peaceful. Honestly, one of the sweetest things I've ever witnessed.
  6. Four year olds are adorable and have super short attention spans.
  7. Inhaling my arms up over head, clasping my hands with index fingers extended, and saying "Shhhh" as I bring my index fingers down to my mouth, works well to bring order and quiet to a crazy group of small yogis. Most of them stop what they're doing and follow along with the shhhh breathing game.
  8. Busting out Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" for an impromptu dance party helps shake the sillies out. Sort of.
  9. Kids love to color my mandalas (reserved for the last 10 minutes of class) and start asking at the beginning of class, "Can we color now?"
  10. I prefer teaching adults how to relax way more than I do wrangling young yogis.
♥ ♥ ♥
A few weeks ago I made the decision to not teach kids yoga anymore. I had such mixed feelings because there were parts of kids yoga that I really loved, but ultimately the parts that did not appeal to me outnumbered the ones that did. I struggled with feeling like I'd let the studio owner down, I'd be disappointing the kids who have come to know and trust me, and what kind of failure does that make me as a yoga teacher? {Oh those pesky voices in my head...}

When I found out this week that a new teacher was hired to take over my Saturday morning kids class I felt a little sad - for about two minutes. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths - checking in to see what my body was feeling. There, bubbling up from deep inside was...wait...what was that? Ohhhh...relief! Relief.

Whenever I have the good fortune of having new (adult) students in my yoga classes, I always tell them this: "If you don't enjoy my class, the poses I lead, the tone of my voice, please keep searching for yoga! Please don't leave and say, 'I tried yoga once and hated it!' because there are so many different styles of yoga and teaching. Once you've looked for yoga, keep looking until you find a class that feels right for you! Keep searching for the right fit!"

I am sorry that teaching kids yoga didn't work out for me and was an inconvenience to the studio owner, but in the long run I do know that I did my best and it's ok to know when to throw in the towel. And for the record, I do not feel like a failure as a yoga teacher.

Like I tell my students, not every yoga class will be the right fit for the student. I learned that not every style of yoga will be a good fit for me to teach. How wonderful that there are so many other options that I absolutely love to lead!

Inhale and exhale.
Live and learn.


debs14 said...

I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be to try and teach yoga to children - oh my goodness, what with the short attention spans and little bodies that are prone to the wobbles - you must have had the patience of a saint!
I think adults go to yoga classes for very different reasons that children are enrolled for - I'm pleased you've found your niche and just know you will soon have a very loyal band of yogis!

Patio Postcards said...

Such wisdom within your words. Your post today not only made me chuckle out loud, but I was head nodding a few times. I did (thank you to you) keep looking for a yoga class that fit for me. I think your recommendation to your students to keep looking for a class that fits if this one does not work is such a generous recommendation. To me it not only shows how grounded you are but a genuine belief in the benefits of yoga. I like the shhh practice & pose - I am going to try this when quieting the voices in my head. I tried teaching Sunday School, once. :)

Audrey said...

Good move, Deb, good move! (from the mother of a 4-year old!)


Becky said...

Having taught 2-5 year olds at a kindergarten for 5 years I can understand how you feel. I am pleased that you have found the right fit of who to teach. You are most definitely not a failure!

Maria Ontiveros said...

What great self-awareness.
I like the deep exhale and feeling of peace that envelopes me when I find that I have made the right decision.

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